Proposal would allow hunting on Sundays

Published 10:51 am Thursday, January 27, 2011

Virginia lawmakers have proposed legislation that would allow deer hunting on Sundays.

Stephen Lankford loves hunting, but doesn’t favor a proposed law that would allow it on Sundays in Virginia for the first time in 108 years.

“I think Sunday should be a family day,” the 43-year-old Franklin man said. “A guy can hunt every day — six days a week. That’s enough hunting for any man.”

Assuming lawmakers approve the bill, Lankford, who takes his vacations during the hunting seasons, said he probably would hunt.

State Delegate William K. Barlow, D-Smithfield, whose district includes parts of Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties, said he’s inclined to oppose the bill.

“It just seems to me that one day of the week should be free of that activity,” Barlow said. “Firing guns and killing on Sunday in some way doesn’t seem compatible.”

“I think Sunday has to be the one day that’s sort of a family day,” he added. “We can do things together rather than go off hunting.”

Barlow noted he supports hunting and believes it’s needed to control the deer population to prevent highway collisions.

Drewryville outfitter Mark Pope said he is indifferent about the proposed regulation. The operator of Southampton Outfitters sells guided deer and turkey hunts on the 5,000-acre family farm.

Right now, Sunday is Pope’s only day “off” during the hunting seasons — his day to regroup.

“I think as far as it being illegal, you can play golf and fish (on Sundays), and I don’t know why hunting isn’t legal,” Pope said.

There’s no doubt in his mind that the local deer population can withstand a seventh day of hunting.

“I’m also a farmer,” said Pope, whose family grows peanuts, soybeans and cotton. “I know the crop damage we get on an annual basis — it’s hard to say, but it’s probably in some years a 5 percent loss.”

If lawmakers approve hunting on Sundays, Richard Railey Jr. said he probably won’t be in the woods.

“Everyone needs a day of rest, to worship, to catch up on responsibilities,” said Railey, who served eight years on the Board for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

However, a hunter for 50 years, the Courtland attorney noted that he clearly believes it’s unconstitutional to prohibit hunting on Sundays.

Railey said he doesn’t favor Sunday hunting for a number of reasons, including the possible disruption of church services.

“There would be trucks filled with hunters riding by on adjoining properties and running and trying to catch dogs while worship services are going on,” he said. “I do know the majority (40) of the states (allow hunting on Sundays) that are much more in the Bible belt. Tennessee has done it for years and years and years.”